BREAKING: Right whale calf found dead in Cape Cod waters, necropsy in progress

Right Whale Calf

I joined my fellow International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) responders last night to examine a dead North Atlantic right whale calf that had been reported off Morris Island and towed to a nearby beach by the local harbormaster.

Our team is part of a larger coalition of scientists performing an necropsy on the animal this afternoon.

The animal is nearly 30 ft. in length and likely around 10,000 lbs.  The New England Aquarium was able to identify it as a calf born this past year, most likely in December or January, in waters off Georgia. The mother is a known animal identified as “Punctuation.”

The mom and calf pair had been seen several times in Cape Cod Bay by different research teams throughout last month and most recently on April 28.

The animal has several large wounds consistent with propeller wounds, but we will not know the cause of death until we complete a full necropsy with other scientists from the following organizations: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, International Fund for Animal Welfare, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Virginia Aquarium, Riverhead Foundation and the Center for Coastal Studies.

The North Atlantic right whale population only numbers 450-500 individuals and every death is a shock to the rebuilding of the fragile population. The loss of a young calf is especially tragic.

We will be reporting more on this sad news as more information becomes available and will report the findings of the necropsy when it is finished.

--MN

All activities conducted under a stranding agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service and IFAW under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

For more information about IFAW efforts to protect marine mammals, visit our program page.

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Experts

Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation